A Movie Buff’s DIY

Photos Michael Laurenzano (michaellaurenzano.com)

Inspired by his grandmother’s architectural and interior designs, Rudy Brown set out to surprise his family with a home theater that he built from the ground up. Beyond inspiration was the sheer desire to build a dedicated theater space. Rudy knew drywall, framing, and painting, but he got the rest of his knowledge from frequenting the DIY section of AVSforum.com and reading Home Theater magazine. What proved to be the initial obstacle was the small size of the bedroom (12 x 14 feet) that was designated for the conversion. Brown drew a design that emulated an actual movie theater, incorporating many of the same aesthetic elements.


After the room was gutted, two sheets of 0.625-inch drywall were hung around the perimeter of the room with Green Glue, a sound-dampening compound, sandwiched in between them. For acoustical treatments, two bass traps were placed on both corners of the room behind the screen wall. They were constructed using roxul insulation inside wood frames. Additionally, linacoustic duct liner spans from one bass trap to the other.

A Panasonic PT-AE8000U projector was chosen, and a home theater PC running XBMC media player software is the primary source device, digitally storing the bulk of Brown’s media library. All the speakers, including the CHT SHO-10s shown above are driven and controlled by an Onkyo TX-NR809 AVR. Aura Pro Bass shakers, driven by a Sony STR-D515 receiver, were placed under every seat for the more visceral bass experience. The Seymour AV screen is acoustically transparent, and Brown cut a frame from poplar wood and wrapped it in velvet. In fact, building as many elements himself as possible, Brown saved a good deal of money; the entire project topped out at about $20,000.


Brown noticed all the theaters with fiberoptic ceilings, and after some research he came across an alternative, a painted star mural from Nightskymurals (nightskymurals.com). He commissioned a ceiling mural that’s astronomically correct for the November sky, his birth month.

The entire theater system and Lutron lighting system is controlled with an iPad mini using the Roomie remote interface. The lighting was separated into three different dimmable scenes.

An avid movie buff with a special interest in action and sci-fi movies, Brown says the conversion was an incredible learning curve, yet definitely an unforgettable, worthwhile, challenging, and, yes, fun experience.

mikem's picture

My HT room is the same size but also a family room. My dream being the one you just built. While 20K is a lot of money you saved a ton doing it yourself. These days who knows what kind of contractor might have shown up for a "professional" install. Nice job. What kind of power/surge protection did you use?